There are weird adventures to be found around every corner and the holidays are no exception, so we decided to round up our favorite unusual things to do in Wisconsin for Christmas for those of us who want more than the typical Christmas parades and mall Santas. Christmas in Wisconsin can be a magical, if not mystifying time of year, with epic light displays like Candy Cane Lane in Milwaukee where you might see the Grinch taunting you from the street corner, and some rather strange places to see Santa.
We’ve collected here what we think are the most unique and Wisconsin-y things to do for an unforgettable yuletide experience.
Watch this quick video or read below for the details.
1. Visit the Kooky Cooky House
Capital Court Mall in Milwaukee was the Christmas destination in the 1960s and 70s, and the magical Kooky Cooky House gingerbread-making machine was the centerpiece where kids could see Boss Robot and get cookies and coloring books from Santa. The mall is long gone, but you can still see the Kooky Cooky House in action today for maximum holiday nostalgia. It appears somewhere new every year.
2. Take a drive to Christmas Card Town
Elkhorn, WI became known as Christmas Card Town after it appeared in a 1950s TV show and inspired artist Cecile Johnson to paint it for a series of Christmas cards. Elkhorn celebrates this heritage by commissioning a new Christmas card every year depicting a snowy, idyllic scene from around town. Visit Elkhorn to see Santa arrive by horse-drawn carriage to light the tree in the town square, catch the annual Christmas Card Town Parade, and grab a pack of this year’s cards from one of the unique shops nearby.
3. Check out the Holiday Tree Show at the Lincoln-Tallman House
Rock County Historical Society’s annual Holiday Tree Show at the historic Lincoln-Tallman House in Janesville adds a touch of quirk to the Christmas season in Wisconsin. The house where Abraham Lincoln once spent the night before he became president is filled with 120 uniquely decorated Christmas trees that each tell a different story, including the 20-foot “Memory Tree” covered in submitted photos of loved ones who have passed away.
4. See 6,000+ Santas at House on the Rock
From its ferocious 200-foot whale to the world’s largest indoor carousel, it’s clear the House on the Rock does nothing in moderation…and that includes Christmas. Tour the House and see more than 6,000 Santas on display when the already bizarre attraction is transformed for the holidays.
5. Take the Lake Geneva Santa Cruise
Lake Geneva boat tours are among the most popular things to do in the area, but you can hop on the Santa Cruise for a special holiday tour of the lakeside mansions all lit up for the holidays, and a special stop at Santa’s workshop.
6. Get Naughty with Krampus at the Milwaukee Krampusnacht
Krampus is the wicked counterpart of St. Nick who takes away the naughty kids to be punished in ancient pagan tradition. Celebrate the dark side of Christmas at the annual Milwaukee Krampusnacht with a traditional Krampus parade, live music, creepy Christmas market, and fun activities for the good kids and the naughty ones.
What’s your favorite unique Wisconsin Christmas tradition? Tell us about it in the comments below!